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Wrigley gives gum a makeover

By Charlotte Eyre , 13-Mar-2008

Wrigley will rework the packaging and flavour portfolio of its US gum products in an attempt to boost sagging sales in the area, the company announced yesterday.

Like many other food firms, Wrigley has had to face a struggling US economy in the last year. In February, the company said that net sales in the US were stagnant, resulting in only a small profit increase of just three per cent in that region. The changes will be focused on the Wrigley and Extra brands, which together represent 30 per cent of the company's gum business in the US, chief executive officer Bill Perez said in a statement.


"We've reformulated these brands to improve taste and flavour duration, and we are introducing new, category-changing packaging that has been two years in the making," he said. "This cool new pack will make these brands more contemporary and give them a great presence on the shelf." These brands will now be packaged in a 'slim pack', a sleeker 15-stick envelope package, the company said, similar to the pack introduced for the 5 brand last year.


That product and its packaging were designed to fit in a pocket, and 'look cool' to attract teenagers and young adults. The company also said it is going to launch several new fruit flavours, as "fruit flavours have been a key contributor to gum growth," the company said.


Four flavours will be created for the Extra gum rage - strawberry banana, berry pearadise, island cooler and sweet watermelon. The orbit gum will now also come in sangria fresca, fabulous fruitini and fruit sorbet. At Wrigley's annual meeting of stockholders yesterday, the company also said it has a number of other cost-saving initiatives planned for 2008, including decentralising the marketing organisation and consolidating advertising agencies.


However, the firm was also anxious to highlight successful areas of business during the past twelve months, "despite an increasingly global economic environment." Chief financial officer Reuben Gomoran reminded shareholders that there were a number of growth areas in 2007, with overseas sales in Asia and the EMEAI region (Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India) offsetting flat sales in North America.


Overseas confectionery businesses that posted higher profits last year included Korkunov chocolate in Russia and the global candy brand Sugus. Wrigley also claimed that gum has certain advantages in the current confectionery climate, as it is easily portable and a good vessel for healthy or functional ingredients.


"While no business is recession-proof, these characteristics do help make ours more recession-resistant," the company said.

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